Rick Johnson Requests Prison Delay Due to Health Concerns

October 12th, 2023 Legal & Crime
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Rick Johnson, the former Speaker of the Michigan House, has requested a delay in beginning his prison sentence due to recent heart surgery. Johnson, known for his significant role in the most extensive public corruption case in Michigan over the last three decades, was scheduled to report to a federal prison in Duluth, Minnesota by October 24th.

The 70-year-old ex-Republican representative from LeRoy was convicted for accepting bribes exceeding $110,000 in connection with manipulating the Michigan marijuana industry. This situation was further complicated by personal indiscretions, which highlighted the extent of his misuse of power.

Nicholas Dondzila, Johnson's attorney, filed an appeal to U.S. District Judge Jane Beckering to postpone the commencement of Johnson's 55-month sentence to around December 2nd. This delay would allow Johnson, who recently underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery, adequate recovery time. "The extended start date ensures Mr. Johnson's health is closely monitored and managed post-surgery," Dondzila mentioned in the official court document. Prosecutors have expressed no opposition to this request.

Johnson's role as the chairman of Michigan's medical marijuana licensing board from May 2017 to April 2019 came under scrutiny when it was discovered that he accepted bribes from prominent figures in the marijuana industry. John Dawood Dalaly, an Oakland County entrepreneur, received a 28-month federal prison sentence related to this case. Meanwhile, lobbyists Brian Pierce and Vince Brown are awaiting their sentencing set for October 18th.

The Duluth prison, positioned near Lake Superior's northern coastline and roughly 700 miles from Lansing, has previously housed notable inmates. Among them are ex-New York Mets player Jerry Koosman, imprisoned for tax evasion, and influential businessman Stuart Levine, who played a role in the conviction of ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Given Johnson's current health status, his physician, Dr. Brandon Wojcik, has vouched for the 90-day postponement, emphasizing the challenges in maintaining his medical regimen in a prison environment. Dondzila also noted the physical constraints Johnson faces, such as limited mobility, which makes travel from Michigan to Minnesota especially daunting.

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